5-1 Blog: Oconee County Observations

1. Who is the writer? Do you consider the author a “professional journalist”?

Lee Becker can be classified as a professional journalist he has several years of expertise in digital media and more than 45 years as a journalist. Specifically, he has been working in the blog analyzed for almost ten years.

There are three main ways to identify clearly what a professional journalist requires to be call like that. Lee Becker fits to the approach called “The normative approach” (Ward, n.a,); this is the strictest one compares to the other two, Skeptical and Empirical approaches (Ward, n.a).

The demands included in this classification are:

–   The Journalist must have highly developed skills. (Ward, n.a)

–   Need to have formal education (Ward, n.a).

–   The main capabilities that need to fill are (Ward, n.a):

  • Research skills
  • Facility with media technology in media
  • Knowledge about how institutions work.
  • Highly developed communication skills.
  • Commitment to accuracy, verification, truth, and so on

Lee Becker completes the qualifications required in this approach; he has a Ph.D. In Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin – Madison; also, he has a Master in Communication from the University of Kentucky and finally a bachelor degree.

2. What is the purpose of this site? Is there a bias?

He identified his blog as one of his hobbies, and adds that its blog follows the established tradition of the newsletter; also, recognized that his aspiration for the County influences his posts.

So, his main purpose is to inform the people in Oconee County, by providing accurate information regarding the main topics going on in there.   He strives to be accurate, fair and transparent; using links to document what known is (Becker, 2006). He states that he balances the news presented by recognize different points of view and portrays the people involved with respect.

However his personal aspiration for the County – as he established – may result as a bias in the way he reports the news; because of his own point of view about the ways he think Oconee County should be.

To be faithful in my opinion about the purpose and bias of the blog and by checking almost each of its entries, I would add that:

  • He tries to be accurate; he links and cites the info he gives to other sources.
  • The type of news he reports has a public interest and appear to be meant – reported for the wellbeing of Oconee County People.
  • He balances the information obtained by knowing both sides of the news.
  • There is no apparent lurid curiosity or sensationalism in any of his reported news.

3. Does the writer adhere to SPJ’s Code of Ethics? Does it seem like he takes steps to verify information and report truthfully and accurately?

First, he stated its blog follows the established tradition of the newsletter, which means that as the author of his blog, he seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and is accountable and transparent. Therefore he might be adhere to the Society of Journalist’ Code of Ethics.

Second, reading almost each one of his blogs I found a few characteristics that identify his adherence to the Code of Ethic, those are:

  • He seems to be accurate; he links and cites the info he gives to other sources.
  • He balances the information obtained by knowing both sides of the news.
  • There is no apparent lurid curiosity or sensationalism in any of his reported news.
  • Provide context.
  • Gather update and correct information throughout the life of a news story (Society of Professional Journalists’s National Convention, 2014).
  • Identify sources.
  • Support an open and civil exchange of views.
  • Balance the public need for information.

Third and finally, the only issue that I found disturbing is that he himself recognized that “his aspiration for the County influence his posts”, and of course this might be a reason for bias or inclination in the published news, which will be based on what he thinks is or not convenient for Oconee County.

4. In your opinion, does it really matter if someone reporting news is labeled as a “professional” or not? Should everyone be held to the same ethical standards regardless of their professional classification?

If people reporting on news will serve as a journalist whether they are professional or not, they must adhere to the same ethical standards regardless their professional classification.

We need to recognize and keep in mind that no matter which the news are, they have an impact on the society who read it; this effect may be miniscule or it may be profound, but it should never be considered insignificant (University Southern New Hampshire, 2013); So, it does not matter if you are professional or not, your reports will affect positively or not to people, to our society; in this sense those professional or not should be measured by the same guidelines and ethical standards. Accountability, accuracy, variety of sources, sources identification, impartiality, and many other requirements to inform must be present at all the time in news reports made or not by professionals.

Finally, the situation here is not about if you are labeled as a “professional Journalist or not”, is about providing accurate news, true, lively, duty to be good and which serves as shaping life (Popova, 2012) and of course following the guide we have as people who provides and reports information or news.

5. How does the rise of citizen journalists and bloggers change the way we receive knowledge and what we know? What are the advantages and disadvantages (or challenges) attributed to the presence of these new writers? Can “non-professionals” show good judgment, assemble information for balanced stories, and build up credibility?

The fact that the science and technology have dramatically changed the way we receive knowledge is undeniable. Digital advances have facilitated an active integration of citizen into providing information; therefore, they are serving now as knowledge providers. In the same way, technology has increased the participation of bloggers that produced a deep change on the way we traditionally received new information and in consequences, knowledge.

The current ethical issues differ of the ones we have before; the nature of journalism are deeply changing, interactive and immediate information is the new trend we all currently required. Citizen journalists and bloggers are displacing traditional journalism to a new concept, guidelines, and tendencies.

In the current stage, I personal think that there are more disadvantages/opportunities than advantages regarding this tendency. The main advantages and disadvantages from the presence of citizen journalist and bloggers into the role of providing and reporting news thru the new media are:


  • New forms of journalism are emerging.
  • Non-profit centers of investigative journalism are being developing.
  • Everyone has the power to be heard.
  • It is harder to hide misconduct and corrupt behavior; or better said is easier to expose them.
  • The information is not held by a few media.

Disadvantages / Opportunities

  • We are confronting new ethical problems, and we have not found, nor applied, a properly and ethical tools to be sure about produced news, regarding the accuracy, truthfulness and not bias news issues.
  • The existing Society of Journalism’ Code of Ethic is not suitable anymore for the today’ news production, which includes its immediacy and always on characteristics.
  • It has not been developed a proper guideline (Code of Ethics) which allow not professional to produced news properly. It has to be developed a new or modify code of ethics that would be applied on the new ways of producing news; ones that apply to amateur and professional whether they blog, tweet, broadcast or write for newspapers (Ward, n.a) or one that guide online or offline journalism (Ward, n.a)
  • Old journalism practices are being threatened. (Ward, n.a)
  • Accuracy and accountability are being affected by the demand of interactive and immediate information. Also, balance news, impartiality and gate-keeping lack in this new era of knowledge.
  • The economics of professional journalism struggles as audiences migrate online (Ward, n.a)
  • Shrinkage of newsrooms is creating concern for the future of journalism.
  • Lack of objectivity is present in this new form of creating news.
  • It is uncertain the way we will verify content from a citizen journalist.
  • Online news production are characterized by its immediacy, partiality, non-professional journalists and post-publication correction (Ward, n.a)
  • There will be vertical ethical questions about how the different layers of the newsroom, from professional editors to citizen freelancers, should interact to produce journalism (Ward, n.a)
  • The conception and the rules of anonymity will be applied equally on the different media platforms.
  • The rumor and subsequent correction tends to cause a great harm.
  • Clarification of the concept of “corrections”: Are we going to allow the constant corrections to be a way for inaccurate news production. How often should we accept it by the same source?
  • We need to find the ways to control, and in better cases avoid, sensationalism (Popova, 2012)
  • Good judgment, fact-checking, several information sources, sensibility are missing characteristics in this new tendency (Southern New Hampshire University, 2013).

Finally, a non-professional can show good judgment, assemble information for balanced stories, and build up credibility that’s for sure!!!. They only need to follow some guidelines that help them in the compilation, validation, structuring and presenting the news. Some of the principal signs that show if a non-professional is on the way to obtain credibility, show good judgment and assemble information balance are:

  • If they treat their work with respect and care (Robinson, 2013)
  • If they see every comment and tweet they send as their digital footprint. (Robinson, 2013)
  • They received press releases, product samples or have been invited to brand hosted events; that means that they are accountable for the information shared. (Robinson, 2013)
  • They are capable of saying, “no” to reviews items, money or opportunities because you recognize it is not the right fit. (Robinson, 2013)
  • They spend as much time interacting with their community as they do writing content. (Robinson, 2013)
  • They hold their-selves countable. (Robinson, 2013)

Rossy A. Calderon


Becker, L. (2006). Oconee County Observations. Retrieved December 2014, from http://oconeecountyobservations.blogspot.com/

Popova, M. (2012, April). The Atlantic. Retrieved December 2014, from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/04/eb-white-on-the-responsibility-and-role-of-the-writer/256005/

Robinson, A. (2013). INDEPENDENT FASHION BLOGGER. Retrieved December 2014, from http://heartifb.com/2013/04/15/7-signs-might-be-professional-blogger/

Society of Professional Journalists’s National Convetion. (2014, September). Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved December 2014, from Society of Professional Journalists: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Southern New Hampshire University. (2013). Southern New Hampshire University. Retrieved December 2014, from Southern New Hampshire University: https://bb.snhu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4783065-dt-content-rid-10108906_1/courses/COM-510-15TW2-MASTER/COM-510-14TW2-MASTER_ImportedContent_20131105030838/com_510_module5_overview.pdf

Southern New Hampshire University. (2013). Southern New Hapshire University. Retrieved December 2014, from Southern New Hapshire University: https://bb.snhu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-4783056-dt-content-rid-10107992_1/courses/COM-510-15TW2-MASTER/COM-510-14TW2-MASTER_ImportedContent_20131105030838/com_510_module4_overview.pdf

Ward, S. J. (n.a). Center of Journalism Ethics . Retrieved 2014, from Center of Journalism Ethics : http://ethics.journalism.wisc.edu/resources/digital-media-ethics/


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